RALEIGH, N.C. -- Senior Brinson Paolini fired a season-best 67 (-5) to guide 10th-ranked Duke into the lead at the Wolfpack Spring Open with a two-under 286. The Blue Devils enter tomorrow's final round at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course with a three-shot advantage over host N.C. State.
"Brinson did an outstanding job of staying present out there," said head coach Jamie Green. "He kept himself in position all day long and when you have the right mindset you can finish strong. Obviously, we are proud of him and the team is thankful for him carrying the way a little bit."
Paolini and senior Adam Sumrall each played under-par golf in leading Duke to its 10th under-par round of the season. N.C. State is second at +1 (289) with Clemson (+3, 291), St. John's (+6, 294) and Francis Marion (+9, 297) rounding out the top five.
Paolini and Clemson's Miller Capps share the individual lead after posting five-under 67s. Ryan McCormick (St. John's) is one shot back with Sebastian Backlund (Francis Marion) three shots off the pace at two-under. Sumrall and Albin Choi (N.C. State) are tied for fifth after shooting one-under 71s. Duke entire five-man lineup as well as its two individuals closed the opening day of play inside the top 20 on the individual leaderboard.
Beginning the day on the back nine at the Lonnie Poole GC, Paolini sat a one-over after three holes of play. He moved back to even-par with a birdie on the par 3 14th hole before moving to two-under after birdies on No. 16 and No. 17. The Virginia Beach, Va., native added a birdie on the par 5 third hole but suffered his second bogey on the day on No. 5. Paolini recovered quickly with birdies on No. 6 (par 3), No. 7 (par 5) and No. 8 (par 3) to move to five-under. He parred the par 4 ninth hole to put a cap on his team-leading 11 under-par round of the season.
"I was fortunate to hit it well all day," said Paolini, who birdied all four par 3s in the round. "I focused on staying present and patient and it paid off with some good birdies to close out the round. As a team, we're excited to be in contention with a good opportunity to win tomorrow."
Sumrall got off to a good start with a pair of pars and a birdie on par 4 12th hole. His round took a drastic turn with a double-bogey and two bogeys over the final four holes of the opening nine. After the turn, Sumrall played flawless golf with four birdies and five pars for his 10th round of even-par or better golf. He began the turn around with a birdie on the par 5 first hole and added birdies on No. 3 (par 5) and No. 4 (par 4) to climb back to even-par. After collecting a birdie on the par 3 sixth hole, Sumrall closed with three straight pars to record one of six under-par rounds on the day.
"I cracked my driver on the second hole of the day and like an idiot I kept trying to use it for a few more holes because of the length of the Lonnie Poole Golf Course," said Sumrall. "I finally shelved the driver after the double on No. 15. On the second nine, I had to accept that I couldn't play with a driver and I was able to get back to playing solid golf."
Seniors Tim Gornik and Julian Suri, both playing as individuals, each posted one-over 73s and are tied for 13th. Gornik recorded 13 pars, two birdies and three bogeys on the day, while Suri recorded four birdies and nine pars.
The trio of Austin Cody, Mads Soegaard and Motin Yeung is tied for 19th after each player registered a two-over 74 in the opening round of action. Cody and Yeung were both at even-par before suffering bogey-bogey finishes Saturday. Soegaard played his opening nine holes at three-over. He bounced back to birdie both par 5s after the turn to climb into the top 20 of the leaderboard.
Complete stats as well as final round tee times are available at www.golfstat.com. Duke is paired with ACC foes N.C. State and Clemson for tomorrow's final round with tee times beginning at 9:30 a.m.